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Hi folks, our 16 wk old pup Boswell, in spite of all my efforts to socialize, etc., is still reactive and fearful of strangers when we're out. It is the one issue I am most concerned about with him.

I'm also afraid that my nervousness is making him worse. He'll tense up and stare at any approaching person, and I shorten the leash (so he won't jump at them) -- am I feeding in to his fears? I try to talk cheerfully and react calmly, but I'm sure he can sense my blood-pressure rising!

When people stop for a meet and greet, he will sometimes bark and back away. He's been like this since we got him (9 wks).

I will confess to have been in tears over it. The LAST thing I want is a scared/ reactive/ potentially fear-aggressive dog!

Anybody with experience or sage advice, I would dearly appreciate it.
 

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Welcome. Cute puppy!

One of our 4-year old boxers is timid, but not fearful of people. All of our boys love people who come in our house. Tundra has been timid since he was a puppy and his brother, Jax, is a hyper alpha. Some of it may be your puppies personality.


The dogs absolutely feed off of your reactions, more than we know. I learned a lot about this when I was researching information on Jax when he suddenly stopped liking every other dog he saw and he'd bark and pull on his harness. I'm not the right person to help train you on what you should be doing to help ease your boys fears. There are many people on here with more experience who should be able to give you some good advice.

One thing our vet said that makes sense is that Jax won't like every dog he meets. I know this is part of who he is, so I keep him at a distance from other dogs for his safety and theirs.

One thing we did with our boys when they were young to help socialize them was to go to Petsmart and walk around and let them interact with other people and dogs.

There are other stores like Lowe's Hardware (and more stores if you google) that will let you take dogs in. Some require the dog to be in the buggy/basket. Your baby should still be small enough for this. If you are comfortable taking him around the store and allowing or even asking people to gently pet him maybe it would help him.

Tundra will let people pet him when we walk him in our neighborhood, but he's still a little hesitant with some people. Dogs read a lot more in people than we do. Jax we have to ensure doesn't get too excited and put a paw up or try to jump up on folks.

If you can take him to a puppy training course he would be able to interact with other dogs and people which could help him.

I hope some of this helps and I'm sure others will reply as they read the forums.

I wish you luck and think it's great you are trying to help your baby socialize.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for taking the time & for the advice! We've been through a puppy class with him, and he is so focused on all of the other puppies (desparate to play) that he would not do anything there -- although at home, he is very good and sit/ down/ stay -- still working on "off" and "drop it".

It's funny you commented that dogs read people differently than we do, because Boswell seems much better with some people than others. He seems particularly comfortable with middle-age to older men, less so with women. With kids (we have 4 kids ages 6-14) he looks less fearful but very very excited - like he is with dogs. He wants nothing more than to play with them.

He was going to puppy daycare a day or two a week at the same place where we did the class, but he managed to pick up kennel cough there (a few days before he was supposed to get vaccinated, naturally....) so he can't go for a couple of weeks now.

He's a big puppy - he was 29 pounds at 13 wks - so I'm not sure if he'd be able to sit in a buggy, but great idea to google places I can take him.

I just hope there is time for him to learn and improve -- he's 4 months already.
 

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Ok first step ... is to chill the heck out. :)

You recognized pretty early on that something with your approach was not right and your seeing "Blow Back??" Well crap happens what you did is not as important ... as what you do "now" going forward. Most likely and I don't know ... what you did was along the lines of 100 people in 100 days??? That would be "Socialization" with people as opposed to "Exposure to people." With the right "puppy" either approach works, I've had both and my Boxer Struddell was a "Socialization" works just fine with for me kinda puppy!!

People for her were the next best thing to Baked Bread! I seriously doubt that anyone could have messed her up?? Still ...even though I "always" said yes to "My I Pet." Tt was always my call! And people had to ask "me" first before, I allowed anyone to lay hands on her! Worked out fine but you don't have that kinda puppy ... apparently??

And the puppy daycare thing ... yeah your dog has already gotten sick and the fact of the matter is no "Pro" would recommend "Doggy Day Care" as a general rule. Depending on the Day Care ... your dog can develop issues from going there .. so I for one am not a fan of "Doggy Day Care."

At anyrate ... what to do "now??" I'd do what I pretty much always do ... see the second link here, "Who Pets" :German Shepherd Dog Forums - View Single Post - New Dog, Very Challenging

Leerburgh kinda sorta goes on and on but the only part I cared about was the "Walk your dog part." You decide he greets and meets ... if anyone, keep people out of his face. Just walk him and teach him to ignore people! He need do nothing ... just say "he is in training" and call it a day.

And train "Place" and do "Sit on the Dog" details on those can be found here. :
http://www.boxerforums.com/training/183298-fearful-anxious-flat-crazy-place-command.html

Those are the essence of what I do ... with every dog that comes under my care. If a dog has zero people issues ... I say yes but if a dog has a people I say "Sorry No, he's in training." And off we go that is pretty much all you need to do. It's late and I'm kinda tire so feel to ask questions ...

It's just a minor setback, he may or may not be a "people luving Boxer eventually??" It may just be a "fear period" but cramming people into his face (sigh with the use of treats or distractions) ... is not the way to go.
 

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You have already gotten some good advise. I'm not a trainer but I have learned that when you tense up and shorten the lead you are actually making the dog on the other end tense up more. I've been told its better to keep the lead loose when you can even if it means abruptly changing direction, to keep him focused on you and not what is on the street. You could also just sit in a parking lot (bring a chair) or in your driveway with him in place and just allow him to watch people, kids cars carts go by. No interaction just sit in place calmly. I also wanted to let everyone pet my puppy thinking at first this was going to make him social well it just made him excited and he lost his focus on me. Just tell people he is in trying and cannot be petted at this time. By the way Chip provides good training advise and you could go to the sites of Jeff Gellman or Leerburgh Leerburg | 17,500 pages of dog training information, 935 free dog training streaming videos, free eBooks, podcasts, by Ed Frawley and Michael Ellis
 

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You have already gotten some good advise. I'm not a trainer but I have learned that when you tense up and shorten the lead you are actually making the dog on the other end tense up more. I've been told its better to keep the lead loose when you can even if it means abruptly changing direction, to keep him focused on you and not what is on the street.
Yes ... I can't cover everything ... in one shot but you are correct! If you tighten up on the leash ... it says to the dog "We have a situation here ... get ready for action!!" For most pet people ... that is not a message that you want to send!! But if one knows little with an untrained dog that "is" what most people do ... as you know it makes sense???

But ... that is not how it's done. One has to first "show the dog you want." Train to the dog to walk correctly on leash ... in a "Distraction Free Environment." NO dogs No people, the dog/puppy learns to understand ... his position, where and what he is suppose to do ... which was for me and "Rocky" was "Do Nothing Dog" ... I got this. :)

So I ... don't use treats, and I do not use "distractions" when dealing with a dog and "people issues." Deal with it dog is how we roll. It's my dogs "job" and dogs under my care to do "Nothing." When faced with their people "issues" ... they look to me. If "Daddy" has no issues ... then they don't either.

You train them "first" to walk well on a loose leash in a "Distraction Free Environment" and they learn ... what they are suppose to do ie "nothing." When they full understand that ... then you can start taking them out and about in the "Real World."

It actually took me many years to actually "Understand" ... that, is what I do. :) But now ... "everyone knows." :)

You could also just sit in a parking lot (bring a chair) or in your driveway with him in place and just allow him to watch people, kids cars carts go by. No interaction just sit in place calmly.
Well I'm curious as to how you figured that out?? But that is actually a "Thing" ... it's called "Sit on the Dog" I covered in the "Fearful or Crazy" Boxer link. :)


I also wanted to let everyone pet my puppy thinking at first this was going to make him social well it just made him excited and he lost his focus on me. Just tell people he is in trying and cannot be petted at this time.
LOL ... well that ... would be a typical well adjusted "Boxer" issue! By and large a well adjusted Boxer just tends to Luv people! Not much in the way of effort required!!

But as I discovered ... if you always say "Yes Please Do" to my I pet ... and it's an owner's "Job" to make sure people ask first ... then yeah your gonna get "Blow Back" when folks come ever! Cause you know "who ever thy are ... they came here to see me!!!

I tend to think these days ... that training "place and doing sit on the dog" would help to put a "Cap" on a lot of the company is here craziness???



LOL ... well I try and I've dug deep into this guys.

Frawely and Michacal Ellis (The Crowd Fav) are well know on GSDForum! Lot of "politics" with these guys! And one of my friends on GSDForum was Lou Castle ... this guy.:
Home

And he and Farwely were uh "Mortal Enemies" would not be too strong a term??? By and large "Frawely" is kinda "extreme" but if one finds no one else online and one is faced with a "Biting/Snapping" people issue prone dog ... then one can't go wrong following his "Dog on lockdown" advice! When I was first faced with Rocky's H/A issues?? I found Leerburgh first, and I used his "Who Pets my puppy or dog" article as a H/A dog protocol??
Leerburg | Who Pets Your Puppy or Dog

The fact of the matter is the "Walking Part" is what I had always did with Struddel and Gunther ...anyway, except with them if asked to pet ... I would always say ..."Yes Please Do!" But ... what if instead "I said NO??" And put my dog behind me to shield them?? That's what I did with Rocky and trust me "No one got past to Pet him" without my permission! Worked out fine ... and after awhile he got that, he looked to me for direction and if I had no issues with this person ... he did not either .. once I understood and recognized that "I don't care" look, ... then I allowed people to pet him ... worked out fine!

And of course "Farwely's Dog Park advice.:
Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea

That one ... I did not really need as I don't trust others people's dogs! So other that "Proofing" one would not find me and my dogs at a "Dog Park" on a routine basis. I take what I find useful and that's what I share. :)

And Michael Ellis ... yeah ... the crowd favorite frankly I doubt anyone can do what he does ... just using his clips??? So can of course ...but not many?? He is mostly a Mal guy and he is big on Marker Training "YES" to mark good behaviours. No problem with that ... but it leaves a lot of gaps??

But you know ME is a big time dog trainer and I'm ... just "that guy" so you'd think there would be nothing ... I'd know that he did not. :)

Still ... when I had my issues with Rocky and his people issues ... I did not think that using treats to "trick people into his face" was a really good idea?? So I never bothered with that crap?? But some people have to learn crap the whole way and ME used his students as "Guinea Pigs" to discover .. what I already knew about the use of treats and people ... not a good idea!

It's a three part series but what he "discovered" is in there. :)

And I will add ... that most likely ... this is where the OP is. If people don't discover it on there own ... I'll lend a hand. :)

And Jeff Gellman ... well he's my guy! And if people can't/don't discover anyone on there online ... then Jeff Gellman has their back! No one has helped JQP train their own dogs (worldwide) on there own the Jeff has!

And for those that don't know ... that would be this guy.:
Solid K9 Training aggressive dog rehab, dog anxiety - Rehabilitation and Family Dog Training

And he has a "Youtube Channel" :
https://www.youtube.com/user/SolidK9Training

And he is available by Skype at a reasonable cost, to everyone but wait ... there's more! This year he is doing "Free Fifteen Minute Skype, sessions for everybody!! See the link at the left here. :

https://www.facebook.com/Solid-K9-Training-140229622668254/

So the Op can go there also ... but after a few years of doing "this" and listening to Jeff's Weekly Q&A's I discovered that by and large I was giving the same advice he did??? That ... I found interesting???

And like Lou Castel (E-Collar) guy Jeff says "anything everyone wants to know to properly train their dog for free ... is available on my website!" :)

You can't do better than that but a "newbie" would not know any of that ... to a neophyte, all the internet "advice" looks pretty much the same ... to me ...not so much. :)

Still ... Jeff notwithstanding he did help others and I helped others by sharing what he did! But he did not "explain" for me what I had done to solve "Rocky's" people issues (my first Over Size Working Line GSD) seemingly without much effort ... so I kept searching for "my answer" as to what I'd done to solve my dog's H/A issues ... seemingly without effort??? A "Positive Only" approach if you will. :)

And finally after many years of searching I stumbled onto the answer in the form of "Larry Krohn" and when I first saw his website ... I was confused??? He calls himself a "Balanced PO Trainer???" What the heck does that mean but ... I dug in! And yep ... sure enough ... that was uh well me!!

The solution to Rocky's people issues ... was actually ... so simple that I just overlooked it??? But part of my not seeing the secret is because, I'd already discovered it with "Struddell!" The ability to "Walk my dog???" That's really all I do! If one can do that ... all the rest is easy ... who knew??

That said ... here you go. :

And Jeff ... well he explains the mechanics:

Between the two ... it's the same thing! But Larry seems to explain the "process" involved better, in my opinion. Most likely Jeff does a lot of the same things Larry does. But Larry explains them better in my opinion. Don't start issue "solving" with "corrections!" Larry spends at least "Two Weeks" just walking a Dog before he deals with issues/corrections. Jeff may do the same thing but I have not heard him say so???

Show the dog/puppy ... what you want "first" by training them to walk well in a distraction free environment ... "first!"

You can't fairly "correct a dog" for not doing what you want (don't act like a tool) if you have not shown them first ... how you "expect them to behave???"
Pretty much that simple. :)

So for the OP ... I don't what they did?? Mostly wrong timeing and wrong approach with their particular puppy?? I'm pretty sure if she'd have had a "Struddell" she could could have done "exactly" the same thing and her puppy would be just fine?? I don't know and it does not matter?? What's done is done ...it's what they do going forward that matters.

And right now ... "keeping people out of there puppies face is what they need to do! So yeah they need to suck up it and learn to say "NO" ... body block access to their puppy! Their puppy will get that and if they do it enough ... they will see it! People will be no big deal ... Daddy/Mommy has this handled?? If the think this person OK ... that's good enough for me! It's a thing. :)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindar51 View Post
You could also just sit in a parking lot (bring a chair) or in your driveway with him in place and just allow him to watch people, kids cars carts go by. No interaction just sit in place calmly.
Well I'm curious as to how you figured that out?? But that is actually a "Thing" ... it's called "Sit on the Dog" I covered in the "Fearful or Crazy" Boxer link.

About 40 years ago I joined a GSD club. I had a pup from an imported GSD who was a member of the club. These people taught me tons. This is the dog I use to refer too as my best trained dog ever. I could put him in a busy vet office pin a down stay and people could come in and just walk over him and he wouldn't budge. He was one of those dogs you could walk to a store place outside while you shipped and he would be in the same spot when you came out an hour later (of course I never did that). He is also the dog that marked up my house after a neighbor brought her golden retriever in my house that was in heat because she thought there was something wrong with her. LOL Unfortunately he died at only 7 years old of cancer. I'll have to find a picture of him one day.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindar51 View Post
You could also just sit in a parking lot (bring a chair) or in your driveway with him in place and just allow him to watch people, kids cars carts go by. No interaction just sit in place calmly.
Well I'm curious as to how you figured that out?? But that is actually a "Thing" ... it's called "Sit on the Dog" I covered in the "Fearful or Crazy" Boxer link.

About 40 years ago I joined a GSD club. I had a pup from an imported GSD who was a member of the club. These people taught me tons. This is the dog I use to refer too as my best trained dog ever. I could put him in a busy vet office pin a down stay and people could come in and just walk over him and he wouldn't budge. He was one of those dogs you could walk to a store place outside while you shipped and he would be in the same spot when you came out an hour later (of course I never did that). He is also the dog that marked up my house after a neighbor brought her golden retriever in my house that was in heat because she thought there was something wrong with her. LOL Unfortunately he died at only 7 years old of cancer. I'll have to find a picture of him one day.
Oh he passed at 7 ... I'm so sorry. :(

And the car thing and just sitting was 40 years ago?? LOL ...yet again ... what's "New" is old! I just recently discovered it ... well a few years now and packaged it up in a thread, Sit on the Dog nd Place ... should be done with "every dog." :)

And yes GSD's you know ... most likely my Struddell, the company crazy aside ... was just as well trained as Rocky??? The thing was I trusted "Rocky" he was the only dog I allowed to walk off leash in an urban environment. Mostly because ... I knew he looked to me for direction and I could tell he was "aware of his surroundings." With Struddell ... I just never got the sense, that she knew or cared about what's going on around her??? It wasn't really fair to her ... but she was my baby girl and I was just not "willing" to put that much faith in her ability to make "Good Choices" ... my bad, I guess???
 

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Chip and Linda helped me out a lot with my own pup. Emmett likes to meet people and be in charge of the meet and greet with people.

Emmett dislikes when people approach from the front and pet the top of his head. He is cautious but not necessarily timid or fearful when he meets new people and sometimes those he knows. I give him a slack lead and ask people to give Emmett time to size them up so to speak. He will sniff people several times and then he will greet them.

He can also be cautious when people come over. Same thing. When he greets people on his time schedule and not theirs or mine - things generally go well. Then he turns into a typical boxer with wiggly butt and a pet me pet me pet me please attitude. :comehereyou:

Lisa
 

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I used her techniques years ago for another Boxer. I think it was the Cautious Canine booklet. It worked really well to get rid of some "fear" related behaviors. It does take some time, but well worth it.

Scared dogs may show aggressive dog behavior | Patricia McConnell | McConnell Publishing Inc.
Hmmm if that is how the "Sit in the Car" thing is suppose to go??? Let me say ... I don't like it .... I don't like it all.

It violates, pretty much everything I've done and believe. I'm not saying it can't be done with some dogs with right "Temperament" but figuring, out if one has the right "dog" for this ... is one step more ... than I would take???

I see lot's of problems with it ... for one ... the "Car" is for me and my dogs ... a "Rolling Dog Crate!" When my dogs go in my Car ... they are not to be screwed with!

So some stranger ... "tossing treats at them" while they are in their "Crate," is not gonna happen! Next the Car is an extension of their home. And by and large ... dogs defend their turf! To me having some "tool" tossing treats at them on their home, turf is "Pressure" applied to a dog with issues, that I don't see as necessary??

It's just seemly "bribing the dog" and dogs that are bribed into acceptable behaviour are dogs that "I" would never trust to make "Good Choices" independently ...if there is no owner to be found???

I apparently "created" my own "Zero Bite" policy. I don't use treats as brides and I don't apply artificial pressure to a dog by creating false situations???

I use world situations and teach my deals "to deal with it!" We will go to a Petco and we will sit outside and I will say ... shield my dog from strangers! They learn to deal with it! It's my job to keep "Strangers out of ther face" and I am very good at my job!

"I" don't look for techniques, that work with "some dog??" I go for what works with all dogs! I'm not saying ... that this approach, does not work at all with some dogs??? But I will say ... that ... it is most certainly ... nothing that I would ever do.

I practice a "Zero Bite Policy" and that clip is ... seemly not what I would do?

The ME, clip I posted speaks to the use of treats with strangers ... the dog focuses in on the treat given by the "stranger" eats it looks up and "suddenly" becomes aware that there is some tool in his face ... WTH and "BAM" bite number one!??? I assumed that such would be the case ... I never tested it. I kept people out of my dogs face and taught him to "deal with it." No "artificial situations" created ... "Real World" as it were. :)

Not saying ... it can not work, but I am saying ... it's not how I roll. But hey ... I apparently don't do lot's of stuff that others do. Cause I'm that guy. :)
 

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The video doesn't give much detail about what triggered the fear (and aggression) in the car. I've seen dogs throw themselves at windows if somebody even parks next door to them. I imagine they've determined the dog has a high food drive that makes using that for training work in this case. The dog goes into high "red" alert with somebody approaching. Again not many details. Patricia uses food to switch the "red" alert pattern into one that's more relaxed. I imagine it would take more time, and more strangers replacing a prior bad experience with a good one to de-condition this behavior.

Her booklet "Fearful Fido" explains much more.
 

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The video doesn't give much detail about what triggered the fear (and aggression) in the car. I've seen dogs throw themselves at windows if somebody even parks next door to them. I imagine they've determined the dog has a high food drive that makes using that for training work in this case. The dog goes into high "red" alert with somebody approaching. Again not many details. Patricia uses food to switch the "red" alert pattern into one that's more relaxed. I imagine it would take more time, and more strangers replacing a prior bad experience with a good one to de-condition this behavior.

Her booklet "Fearful Fido" explains much more.
Oh I get it and I'm not saying ... that can't work?? But I am saying it's not an approach ... I would take. I would not trust a dog that has been "bribed into behaving well"
to be "reliable" in any situation???

I view that approach as "addressing the issue directly???" I suppose that works?? But it's not what I do nor recommend. I prefer a "Self Extinguishing Behaviour." Instead of fighting a behaviour I don't want, I train a behaviour I do want. I train calmness into a dog.

Dogs "default" to behaviours they know and understand. If one trained that dog in "Place" ... if someone approached the car ... "you'd say "Place" and down she would go, no treats/bribe needed. :)

Train Place, Do Sit on the Dog and proper structured walks and "problem solved." That would be the theory anyway. It's worked out fine for me ... thus far. I like to Keep it Simple. :)

The core principle. :

http://www.boxerforums.com/training/183298-fearful-anxious-flat-crazy-place-command.html
 

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There's a book called "Animals in Translation" by Temple Grandin that talks about how animals experience fear. It's a good read. Of course there are dogs born with a fearful temperament, and dogs without enough fear in them. These are dogs that will be probably problems always. I get so sidetracked, sorry.
 

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There's a book called "Animals in Translation" by Temple Grandin that talks about how animals experience fear. It's a good read. Of course there are dogs born with a fearful temperament, and dogs without enough fear in them. These are dogs that will be probably problems always. I get so sidetracked, sorry.
LOL ... I'll look that book up. Dogs without enough fear in them??? Not familiar with that term?? But off the top of my head ... I'd say "Game Bred Pit??" I've heard of them but never met one.

And yes dogs with fear or aggressions issues, I'd say ... there is a much higher level of owner responsibility required. But that need not be a burden ... you just need to make good choices for them and sometimes change your expectations of what you can do with them.

A dog with either issue is not gonna be that comfortable at a big family gathering ... I would imagine??? For some that's no big deal for others ... it's a problem.

I put the book on my list of things to buy. I got another dog book I have to finish reading but thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sorry, I've tried to post a reply a couple of times and it has disappeared -- not sure if it's the site or me. Anyway, a huge thanks everyone!

Boswell's reaction to people sounds very much like your Emmett's.

And Chip - you got it exactly right - the puppy-class trainer recommended "100 people in 100 days" - lol - and to get him out there to meet as many people as possible. "Socialize, socialize, socialize!" But I have found your approach really, really helpful. It was a HUGE eye-opener to me that my dog does not HAVE to love everybody -- why should he? He just needs NOT to react to them. So I have been walking him with that attitude and it's a huge improvement already. I love the "I'm training him" response to people who want to come right over and pet the puppy (on the head, naturally...) -- it gets the point across without coming out and saying "leave my dog alone."

And yes, I absolutely need to chill the hell out :) I think I read a pile of books about raising puppies and was freaking out about doing the wrong thing at the wrong 'critical' time, thinking the dog would be ruined forever.

They do say dogs become like their owners, and as for 80% of the problem being at MY end of the leash... well, to prove that point, Boswell seems just fine with people coming into the house. He sniffs them a little and waggles his bum like crazy. If anything, it's just the usual puppy excitement and exuberance that needs to get reined in.

I've been trying "sit on the dog" as well, across the road from the elementary school. He will sit but only down for a bit before popping back up (it's a very busy area, also with road construction at the moment) but I think it's helping both of us chill out a bit. I've been getting quite a bit of reading done :)

We took a longish car ride yesterday with Boswell to attend a family birthday party, and he was fantatic. My sister's 3-yr old standard poodle was there and they had a fabulous time racing and rolling around the yard. It was a true pleasure to watch. And he had not a single fearful reaction to anybody at the party, although I noticed from the corner of my eye that if anybody went to pat him on the head he ducked down and looked less than happy - but that was about it. For the first time I thought yes, he's going to work out just fine :) :) :)

Thanks so much for your advice peeps!
 

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Zuke dislikes the head getting petted also. He looks like an actual boxer ducking punches. lol

I just tell people if you want to pet him, his back or chest is the best spot he doesn't like his head petted.
 

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Aww sorry you were having troubles but it sounds like you've been hard at work! And I must say thanks for the feedback and outstanding results so far. :)

And yeah 100 days and 100 people, socialization with people vs exposure to people. If one "happens to get or pick" the right puppy/dog ... it makes no difference. But if you don't ... it can be make or break depends on the dog, the owner and the approach taken???

The hand shy thing ... approach from above. I don't like that reaction ... if and it sounds like you have modified your approach, then your showing him what you want and how you expect him to behave. And it should be that if given a choice, he will step a away if he gets that uncomfortable. Not idea but workable ...if he is being allowed to interact relatively freely with people.

The hand above the head bit, can be a thing with some dogs. Most likely had been aware of it (being a potential issue with Rocky my former H/A GSD) I'd have been even more "anal" allowing people to pet him then I already was???
But as it was ...he had so much faith in me ... that he did not seem to care how he was petted by strangers???

I tried to do a quick search about hand above the head petting?? But I did not like what I saw ... I flat will not use "treats" for dogs with people issues. Most likely I could make an effort to explain further but sigh ... In as much as I "know who" has the answer ... it would be more beneficial to the "community" as a whole if I reached out on GSD. As a member there did explain it quite well in a thread it was about another issue but the head thing came up. I saw it and meant to keep trap of that post but ... I lost it. But I will ask, when you saw that ... was it someone he knew or a "stranger???"

And the Sit on the Dog, thing ... I suppose, it is subject to interpretation to a small degree?? As I understand it and used it the only requirement was the dog doesn't pull away. If he wants to Sit/Stand or Down?? It doesn't matter, you stop he stops ... no commands, you need say nothing. It's more of a this is the way it is dog ... deal with it.

But as I say subject to interpretation, the very first time I did it was with a rescue with fear of people issues. The dog was a mess, the week before when I saw him. He just looked so beat down and sad, broke my heart. But on our first outing (done my way) and with tons of people (reescue day at the Park, not my choice of venue ...but whatever.) And he did great save for once, when someone broke my bubble, it could have been Struddell. They did ask, to pet, but they moved forward while I was thinking it over. Tic Tac Toe, stepped back away from them and pressed into my thigh??? I looked down,he looked up and his eyes were big as saucers! Oh ... there it is "Fear of people!" My hand went out and I said he's in training and we were out of there!

Back at base camp, we did Sit on the dog, I said nothing to him. I just sat and after a bit of that, he appeared just as happy and goofy as the other Boxers there! It was amazing and it was a first time hands on deal with me with my first "fear of people" Boxer! When I went back I expected to be working with him again and to my surprise and delight ... he'd been adopted!! I hope he's happy in his new home.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi Chip and everybody,

Boswell is doing well - we're both still learning, but things are vastly improved. A huge part of that is my change in attitude, thanks to Chip planting the idea in my head that my dog does not have to meet/ interact/ love every single person that we come across. I think that has taken the pressure off of me (and made me waaaay less tense when we're doing structured walks).

He's still a very excitable puppy, maybe on the nervous side, but with each passing week he's settling down. When we got him at 9 wks he was very very nippy with the kids and would pounce on our 6-yr old ("bite-sized") son - and that has totally stopped. I've had our little guy do some training (well, as much as a little kid can do) and give him his meals.

Boswell was neutered yesterday and we were told no running for a couple of days -- uh, no way, says Boswell -- I tried to keep him quiet yesterday, but this morning as soon as I let him out to pee he was out in the yard doing a puppy burn. He hasn't been touching the incision site, which is so tiny it's barely visible! So no cone, luckily for him. Also - no issue with being in a cage at the vet, and no problem with any of the staff there, it seems -- when I picked him up they just said, "He's a great dog!". Of course, it is their business, so I'll take that for what it is, lol.

Thanks again folks! Still a work in progress, but I've also been told I need to be patient :) :)
 

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